A one-armed volleyball player who refused to quit the game he loved even after cancer claimed his right arm died early Tuesday, losing his battle with the disease.
Eduard Nogay attended Ft. Hamilton High School in Brooklyn and came back to play for his team for a playoff win on May 7 but had been in a Manhattan hospital since May 19 with anemia caused by low hemoglobin. Nogay received blood transfusions every day and had a tube in his lungs after the most recent collapse in April.
Nogay, who came to the United States from Uzbekistan in 1999, was diagnosed with sarcoma last year after doctors found a lump by his right elbow. After radiation and chemotherapy did not work, doctors amputated most of his right arm on Halloween.
Against doctors’ wishes, he returned to the court as a one-armed volleyball player for a 2-1 win against Christopher Columbus High School.
“The two teams are in warmups and everybody’s looking for Eddie,” his coach Kim Tolve said at the time. “He kind of snuck into the school through the back entrance, and he comes walking into the gym with his uniform on, his kneepads on, a smile on his face and a letter in his hand. And that just got the guys all fired up. It was hard to hold back the tears.”
The one-armed volleyball player turned 18 on Monday and died shortly just minutes after his birthday ended with his family, volleyball coaches, and three best friends by his side.
One of those friends, Denis Dikarey, said the time of Nogay’s death was fitting.
“It was storybook,” Dikarev siad. “After it hit 12 o’clock — he made a promise to his brother to wait until his birthday finishes. Right when it hit 12 o’clock, that’s when it happened. I really feel like he wanted it this way.”
“It was a beautiful but devastating moment,” Nogay’s coach, Kim Tolve, told the New York Daily News.
Family members originally had a birthday party planned for 7 pm but at close to 6 pm the one-armed volleyball player started to have trouble breathing. The party was canceled, but Nogay was able to say a final goodbye to the 30 students who showed up.